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Post  Spider Woman on Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:11 pm

What is the difference between a milk snake and a king snake? I have seen pictures of both with the same color/pattern. It came be a short summed up version, is it just the location or what..????

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Re: Question

Post  tandy on Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:17 pm

Robin,
My first thought is that both belong to the genus Lampropeltis and they are both species/subspecies within that genus with sometimes very subtle differences. Can someone else go into more detail? I'd have to do some research to go more in depth.

The common names seem to be more often linked to behaviors as well. Such as milksnakes were often seen around barns and other areas and hence their commmon name.

I'm curious to see what others have to say. Tandy
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Re: Question

Post  Snakeman on Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:18 am

Robin,

The answer to your question depends on who you talk to and /or what "reference" (authority) you read.

Some feel they are all kingsnakes.

(Robert Applegate: "Yes, milksnakes are kingsnakes.")

There are many valid taxa and there are those that are still somewhat problematical.

What makes this discussion even more interesting is that some authorities do not recognize subspecies

while others do.

A very general interpretation is that subspecies are only a slightly different color morph usually found in a

very isolated / restricted geographical location.

DNA studies have helped clarify some of this confusion.

I have a lot of reference books that I can refer you to and they may or may not help to answer your

question.

If you're interested in researching this further, I'd suggest you start with "Kingsnakes and Milk Snakes" by

Ronald Markel, but this book is just one of many you may want to read.

A related question, that you brought up during our trip to the NARBC, is about corn snakes and rat

snakes.

Again, it depends on who you ask.

Here's my two cents on both of your questions.

Kingsnake and Milk Snake are simply different common names, no more, no less.

I call a Prairie Kingsnake, a kingsnake (species: calligaster).

To call it a milksnake would only create confusion.

I call a Honduran Milk Snake, a milk snake (species: hondurensis).

To call it a kingsnake would only create confusion.

Corn snakes are rat snakes and they are also known as the "Red Rat Snake".

I hope this helps.











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Re: Question

Post  Snakeman on Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:51 am

Additional comments:

1.)The name milk snake comes from the old belief that milk snakes would crawl under cows and drink the

milk from their udders.

However, snakes' mouths are not anatomically designed to suck.

2.) "A kingsnake is a member of any one of eight species and multiple subspecies that make up the genus Lampropeltis. The eight species include the gray-banded kingsnake (alterna), prairie kingsnake (calligaster), common kingsnake (getula), Mexican gray-banded kingsnake (mexicana), Sonoran mountain kingsnake (pyromelana), Ruthven’s kingsnake (ruthveni), California mountain kingsnake (zonata) and milk snake (triangulum). (Milk snakes are also kingsnakes; they are the only one of the eight species that doesn’t have the word "kingsnake" as part of their common name, but oddly one of the subspecies of the milk snake group is the scarlet kingsnake.)"
Bob Applegate - The ReptileChannel.

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Re: Question

Post  Spider Woman on Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:57 am

Thanks for all your help. I will have to read a book for curiosity. When Steve saw the grey banded milk snake I brought home he said it looked like a milksnake, which It does to the untrained eye (me) so I goggled pics for both and a lot looked so much like each other it got me wondering what the difference is!

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